(CNN) – The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released a Democratic memo in redacted form that seeks to undercut Republican claims of FBI surveillance abuses.
The committee made the Democratic memo public after the White House signed off following negotiations between the FBI and the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, over what in the document should be redacted.
Earlier this month, the White House objected to releasing the memo, saying that sensitive material had to be removed first.
Schiff’s memo was written to rebut a Republican memo that accuses the FBI of suppressing Democratic ties to an opposition research dossier on then-candidate Donald Trump and Russia used in the FISA warrant for former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
“The Democratic response memo released today should put to rest any concerns that the American people might have as to the conduct of the FBI, the Justice Department and the FISC,” Schiff said in a statement. “Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests.”
The White House said in a statement that nothing in the Democratic memo counters Trump’s statements that neither he nor his campaign colluded with Russia.
“While the Democrats’ memorandum attempts to undercut the President politically, the President supported its release in the interest of transparency,” the statement read. “Nevertheless, this politically driven document fails to answer serious concerns raised by the Majority’s memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign.”
Schiff and other Democrats charge that the Republican memo led by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes of California is misleading and omits key facts, including that the FISA application did state that ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, was paid by a political entity. FBI Director Christopher Wray also expressed concerns, publicly warning the White House that omitted information could impact the memo’s veracity.
Speaking Saturday afternoon at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Nunes said that he wanted the Democratic memo released “because we think it is clear evidence that the Democrats are not only trying to cover this up, but they’re also colluding with parts of the government to help cover this up.
“So what you basically will read in the Democratic memo is that they are advocating that it’s okay for the FBI and DOJ to use political dirt paid for by one campaign and use it against the other campaign,” Nunes said.
In a written statement, Nunes added that “the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice. It defies belief that the Department of Justice and FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page.”
The release of the Schiff memo caps an unprecedented and tumultuous period for the committee, which has now voted to release two classified documents using an obscure committee rule that had never been invoked previously in the panel’s history.
This story is developing and will be updated.
By Jeremy Herb, CNN
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